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Spotify buys sports-talk app Locker Room

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Spotify buys sports-talk app Locker Room

Spotify is acquiring live audio sports app Locker Room and its maker Betty Labs — with plans to expand the app’s reach into broader segments of pop culture, according to a new report.

The deal, which is backed by Lightspeed Venture Partners, Google Ventures and Precursor Ventures, is valued at around $50 million, The Wall Street Journal said. If certain targets are met the value could reach $80 million, the publication said, citing anonymous sources.

Locker Room has become a place for sports super fans, with the likes of Miami Heat forward Andre Iguodala, Philadelphia 76ers guard Seth Curry and ESPN’s Jeff Darlington dropping in for conversations on games and news.

As part of its purchase, Spotify will rebrand and relaunch the app with a broader focus across sports, music and pop culture. Spotify said it will keep it a stand-alone product, but users will be able to record live sessions and upload them to Spotify or podcasting platform Anchor and distribute them broadly.

The Swedish streaming giant, which has made a massive push into podcasting in the last two years, will also work with music and podcasting stars and users to facilitate programming with artists hosting album-listening parties or DJs spinning live sets before uploading them as playlists, the company said. Sportscasters and fans will be able to weigh in on games and podcasters could host live Q&A sessions, for example.

“How do you talk to many people at once has been a challenge, and this format has turned out to be very scalable,” Söderström said. “You can have a few people on stage, you can raise your hand in the audience and be unmuted and ask a question, unlike on Twitter where you have everyone screaming all at once.”

Live audio has become hot during the pandemic with voice-based social networks like Clubhouse, Twitter, Water Cooler and Locker Room, which backers say has filled a void for sports fans looking to gather and talk in real time.

“Our creators have been asking for a long time to be able to be more interactive with fans,” Gustav Söderström, Spotify’s research and development chief, told the Journal.. “The most effective way is to actually speak to them live.”

The Locker Room app launched last October and has seen roughly 19,000 installs since then, according to app research firm Sensor Tower. So far in March, the app has seen about 8,000 installs, already representing 60 percent month-over-month growth from all of February, The Journal noted.

The app and its content will remain free for the time being, but Spotify has been working on ways for creators to monetize their work, The Journal said.

“Maybe live is a revenue model, maybe it isn’t,” said. Söderström, adding that while China has shown aptitude to pay for this kind of service, Western markets haven’t. “It has potential, and it’s our job to explore.”

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Dogecoin jumps again to double record rally price

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Dogecoin jumps again to double record rally price

Dogecoin has doubled from its Wednesday morning rally to reach prices of more than $0.30 Thursday night.

The dog meme-inspired cryptocurrency — that began as a joke — is up 400 percent over the past week, according to Coindesk.

The surge came a day after Wednesday’s stock market debut for the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, which was considered a sign of Wall Street’s acceptance of crypto. However, Dogecoin is not listed on Coinbase.

Doge was the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter Thursday night, and at least one user told The Post they were unable to purchase the currency on Robinhood, due to the app crashing as its value skyrocketed.

“Doge Barking at the Moon,” tweeted SpaceX’s Elon Musk, who once said Dogecoin is his favorite Bitcoin rival.

“Me on Robinhood checking if #dogecoin has reached the moon every 2 seconds,” another user tweeted.

“There is fixing to be a lot of Meme Millionaires,” one user posted.

Dallas Mavericks owner Marc Cuban began accepting Dogecoin for payment for NBA tickets and merchandise last month.

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Robinhood sues Massachusetts over regulatory clampdown

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Robinhood sues Massachusetts over regulatory clampdown

 Online brokerage Robinhood on Thursday sued to invalidate Massachusetts’ recently-adopted fiduciary rule and block state regulators from proceeding with charges it encourages inexperienced investors to place risky trades without limits.

Robinhood in a lawsuit filed in state court in Boston said the fiduciary standard of conduct for broker-dealers that Massachusetts Secretary of State Bill Galvin’s office adopted last year violates state and federal law.

A spokeswoman for Galvin did not respond to a request for comment.

Galvin, the state’s top securities regulator, in December filed an administrative case accusing Robinhood of using aggressive tactics to attract inexperienced investors and failing to prevent outages on its platform.

He accused the app-based service of using strategies that treated trading like a game to lure young, inexperienced customers, including having confetti rain down for each trade made on its app.

The case is the first enforcement action brought under a state fiduciary rule adopted in September that raised the investment-advice standard for brokers.

Regulators are seeking a fine and order requiring Robinhood to engage a compliance consultant to review its platform and policies. Robinhood has denied wrongdoing.

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Veterans included in latest round

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Veterans included in latest round

The feds just doled out another 2 million stimulus checks — and a large chunk of them went to veterans.

The Internal Revenue Service’s fifth batch of coronavirus relief payments under the American Rescue Plan included more than 320,000 checks for people relying Department of Veterans Affairs benefits, officials said.

Those taxpayers are receiving compensation benefits or VA pensions available to veterans as well as their spouses or other relatives in some cases, according to the feds.

Like many Social Security recipients who had to wait for their stimulus checks, these VA beneficiaries do not usually file tax returns and didn’t submit their payment info to the IRS when previous payments were distributed last year, the tax agency said Wednesday.

The IRS had to review payment data it received from the VA to deliver money to the affected veterans, officials have said.

The VA beneficiaries’ checks were among more than $3.4 billion worth of “economic impact payments” that the IRS said it started processing last Friday and officially paid on Wednesday.

Nearly 850,000 payments in the latest batch went to people whose payment info the IRS did not have on record but recently filed a tax return, according to the feds. Another 72,000 went to the aforementioned Social Security beneficiaries who didn’t file income taxes in either of the last two years, officials said.

There were also more than 700,000 “plus-up” payments to taxpayers who received an initial check in March based on their 2019 tax returns but qualified for more money based on their recently processed 2020 returns, the IRS said.

The feds have now given out about 159 million stimulus payments worth more than $376 billion since President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion spending package authorizing the checks last month, officials said.

This week’s batch of payments included nearly 1.2 million direct deposits and close to 800,000 paper checks, according to the IRS.

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